PEOPLE that present forged or false PCR test results with the intent to deceive officials, as well as people that refuse to have a COVID-19 test performed on them will henceforth face criminal charges under the regulations of the Public and Environment Health Act of 2015.
The latest amendments to the health regulations instituted by the Namibian Government as contained in the latest Government Gazette states that Regulation 32 has been amended and it is now a criminal offense to refuse to undergo a PCR test to detect COVID-19 when required to do so.
People who refuse to subject themselves to quarantine measures will also be criminally liable upon conviction.
Any person presenting fake SARS CoV2 PCR test results will be prosecuted.
Any non-Namibian who presents fake or forged SARS CoV2 PCR test results to an official at any port of entry will be denied entry into Namibia and will be deported at his or her own cost.
The newly gazetted regulations were announced by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, last week, and the Government Gazette was published when the new regulations that will be in force until the end of June were published earlier this week.
When Dr. Shangula announced the new intervention measures during a briefing at State House and said that most of the regulations will remain unchanged but he focused on the changes that were made to further curb the spread of the dreaded disease.
Besides criminalizing the refusal to undergo PCR tests and the refusal to be quarantined, the minister also said that the number of persons that will be allowed at public gatherings was reduced from 100 to only 50.
At the same time, he encouraged various institutions to rely on virtual platforms when they host workshops or other training activities.
With regard to the nightly curfew from 22:00 to 04:00, Dr. Shangula said it is a very important tool in containing infections.
“Curfew is imposed in such a way that it causes minimal inconveniences to the individuals. It is set for the time when people are expected to be sleeping in any case,” he said.
The number of people that are allowed to attend a sporting event as spectators were also limited to 50.
Those attending such an event are expected to comply with public health measures at all times.
With regard to travellers, Dr. Shangula said that all people entering Namibia are required to produce a SARS-CoV2 PCR negative test result.
Such results are valid for seven days from the date of specimen collection.
The health minister said that Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Test results will no longer be accepted at the various ports of entry into Namibia.
In addition, Dr. Shangula said that all travellers coming from or transiting through hotspot regions such as India are required to repeat the SARS CoV2 PCR test seven days after their arrival in Namibia.
He said that Namibian students studying abroad will be exempt from bearing the cost of COVID-19 tests upon departure from Namibia for academic purposes, provided that adequate proof of their intent to study is presented.
Dr. Shangula added that travellers returning to Namibia within seven days after departing will not be required to present negative SARS CoV2 PCR test results from the country of departure.
With regard to public transport, the health minister said operators in the sector are urged to strengthen compliance with public health measures in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19 infections.
Although the regulations with regard to COVID-19 related deaths and burials remained unchanged, the embalming of remains of persons who died of notifiable infectious diseases is prohibited.
The health minister added that the posthumous re-swabbing of persons who died of COVID-19 is prohibited, except in specified circumstances as determined by an authorized person.
“It should, however, be noted that COVID-19 infection is not a valid reason to forgo a post-mortem examination if it is indicated,” he said.
With regard to funerals, Dr. Shangula said that attendees must disperse immediately after the service.
“The congregation of attendees at the residence of the deceased person or any other place enjoy meals and beverages are strongly discouraged because such gatherings offer fertile ground for Covid-19 transmission,” he said.
Dr. Shangula said that Namibia remains one of the few countries that has instituted liberal control measures against the pandemic.
“We have, however, been urged by fellow Namibians to impose stricter measures in order to contain further transmission and to save lives. The measures as they currently stand, strike a fine balance in order to preserve lives and the livelihoods of people. At the same time the measures are aimed at assisting economic growth in abnormal times,” he said.
The health minister implored all Namibians to show their unreserved support and cooperation with the measures.
“Our preference is not to enforce the law but to rely on voluntary compliance. In the absence of the latter, the law will, unfortunately, have to be imposed,” he said.